Chef Jeff Continues Fight Against Firing

SURPRISE, Ariz. - Geoff "Chef Jeff" Mena, the performer behind, has decided to continue his fight against what he considers his wrongful termination from his job as a recreation specialist at the Surprise Tennis Complex.


Mena and his attorney, Terry F. Hall, filed a notice of claim against the city and several city employees on March 7, alleging defamation, violation of First Amendment rights and wrongful interference with contractual relations. According to Arizona law, anyone who intends to file a lawsuit against a public entity or an employee of a public entity must first file a notice of claim and allow 60 days for a response.


"Through their insurance company, the city has verbally stated they've denied the claims," Hall told AVN Online.


While no civil suit has been filed, Mena and Hall said that still is an option.


"We believe these are valid claims and we will win on them," Hall said.

Mena said the lawsuit is not about money, but rather about fighting an injustice.


"I am standing up for myself because, clearly, this is just a case of discrimination and intolerance," he said. "There are lots of talented people in the adult industry, and their involvement or past involvement in the adult industry should not preclude them from pursuing other careers, much less face discrimination based firings.


"In doing so, I am not just standing up for myself, but for anyone in porn that wants to try another career."


Mena was selected from a field of 150 applicants in August 2007 to fill an administrative position at the newly constructed Surprise Tennis Complex. Before applying for the position, he said, he discussed his adult-industry past with John Austin, a friend who later would serve as his immediate supervisor.


"I was very open and even questioned him then about whether my past involvement in the adult entertainment industry would be a problem," Mena told AVN Online. "He agreed that it was irrelevant and completely unrelated to the new position at the tennis center."


But after city officials received an anonymous letter from someone who was concerned "that he also is involved in the adult entertainment industry," Mena was called into Austin's office on Sept. 8 to discuss the letter.


Mena said he was called into Austin's office again three days later, when he was handed a termination letter with no reason for the dismissal.


"I was asked for my keys to the facility and for my city ID, and I was told it was effective immediately," Mena said.


Adult and mainstream media coverage of the firing prompted the city to say Mena's employment was terminated because he violated the city's Internet usage policies.


The city's Internet filter identified eight "adult/sexually explicit" websites Mena browsed for a total of eight minutes. While none of the sites contained any explicit sexual content, most had design code that linked to domains with sexual content. Mena said the dates and times of some of the website visits in question coincide with his discussion with his former supervisor, just after the anonymous letter was received.


Mena said he and his boss had entered his name into a search engine to see what content popped up. He said the other sites were visited when he and another city employee were talking about Web design and he visited his portfolio website, which featured nonsexual content.


Mena said he is considering filing a civil suit.


Though Mena now is a successful performer and more in the adult industry, he said he still would like to return to his first love someday.


"I was seeking a return to tennis as a career because it's more personally rewarding," he said. "My résumé for tennis is extensive and impressive. I challenge anyone to give me a reason why I should not be at that job."